Feb 032021

Thanks to all the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Alison Raven, Ann Stanley, Fay Loveland, Gayle Parkes, Hanh Truong, Lucinda Flynn, Maude Farrugia, Melissa Foong, Pauline Webb and Vasundhara Kandpal.

Re-opening news

Greensborough food swap (which was held at the community garden at Diamond Valley Library) is in abeyance pending finding someone to organise it.

Ann visits the garden of Claire Smith, from Mooroolbark

Late last year, Ann Stanley visited the gardens of Claire Smith and Jenny Husselbee, both from Mooroolbark. As Ann says in her write-up: “People of Mooroolbark! You have inspiring people among you. Of course, you already know this(!) but you may not know these two people: Claire Smith and Jenny Husselbee have both established productive permaculture gardens on challenging sites in Mooroolbark, Claire on boggy land not far from where Lilydale Toppings were sourced and Jenny on clay soil near the site of the Montrose brickworks. Neither garden is on prime agricultural land but both sites produce significant amounts of food, proving that, with some attention to your site’s deficits and working with the natural supplies of light, water and soil, a garden can be productive. Both gardens showcase the permaculture approach to food growing, which is based on the integration of plant, animal and community resources.” Ann has now written up her visit to Claire’s garden. Her write-up of Jenny’s garden will follow in a subsequent newsletter.

Some of you will know Claire as the organiser of the Mooroolbark Urban Harvest Swap, whilst others might have been to some of her the Permaculture Victoria Bee Group events that we occasionally advertise in this newsletter. Or you might even have been on the same Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) as her. When Claire moved into her ½ acre garden 6 years ago, it was boggy and had no edibles so she dug trenches, added coffee grounds and built up her soil. Now she has a veggie patch, around 40 fruit trees, chickens and bees.

Read the full interview writeup.

We need more people to come forward for Ann or Judy to visit their garden and interview them. If you are potentially on for this, please email me.

A new local producer of olive oil – 800 Trees

800 Trees in Hurstbridge is a small olive grove that produces delicately fragrant olive oil with a distinctive ‘cloudy’ appearance. It is rainwater-fed and guarded (and fertilised) by their resident alpacas. Their main olive varieties for producing olive oil are frantoio, corregiola and manzanilla, with giant kalamatas sold fresh for making table olives. The olives are cold pressed and filtered only once. You can currently buy their olive oil at IGA Xpress Hurstbridge, Aumanns At Warrandyte or Quintons SUPA IGA, Warrandyte. Read their page in our Local Food Directory.

This is where I would normally say “Welcome, Melissa” but as she is a longstanding newsletter reader I am instead going to say “Congratulations, Melissa“.

There are now 4 olive oil producers in our Local Food Directory.

Do you know – what to do with old netting?

Alison Raven has written in: “Is there any way of recycling the old fruit tree netting that will be illegal come September, when the netting laws in Victoria change? Agriculture Victoria says: ‘When disposing of the old netting, reduce the chance of further entanglements by placing the old netting into a strong biodegradable bag before putting into landfill.’ I don’t want to put it in landfill unless there is absolutely no other option. I assume it is made of some kind of plastic, so I would have thought it could be recycled somehow. There will be mountains of old nets going into landfill otherwise.

This has actually been the subject of recent discussion within NERP. Lucinda Flynn asked her council (Nillumbik) and got this reply: “Unfortunately we have not been able to source any options for recycling plastic netting material.“. The Council, in turn, contacted REDcycle and got this reply: “Whilst the material itself may be able to be REDcycled (only if it is polypropylene PP, LDPE or HDPE, not if it is actually nylon), the problem with this is that they have had long exposure to the sun, meaning the plastic has already started to deteriorate (and some are often quite dirty as well). Any materials in this state cannot then be used, as it impacts the structural integrity of the final products made from the plastics. Further, unfortunately we are not actually able to accept commercial/industrial or large volume soft plastics like this. Even if the bird netting is clean, it would all need to be cut to A3 size pieces or smaller before we could accept it, otherwise it becomes entangled in the processing machinery.

Anyone else like to say anything? Email me.

Do you know – potato problems?

Pauline Webb has written in: “What grub or slug is eating my potatoes while they are in the soil (see photo)? Is this skin potato scab or something else? How should I control it?Email me with your answers.

Why are your tomatoes still green?

A number of people have been asking me why their tomatoes haven’t (yet) ripened. Well, I asked my mate Costa and here is his reply.

Want to win $100 gift voucher for The Diggers Club?

Open Garden Victoria are running a competition for most impressive and productive veggie patch. In other words, they are looking for good examples of home food gardens. The winner will receive a $100 gift voucher for The Diggers Club. Closing date: 28th February. Read more and potentially submit your photos and words.

Angelo’s latest article – citrus leaf problems

Citrus problems – leaves curling inwards along their length.

Read more of Angelo’s food-related articles.

Growing ginger in Melbourne

Hanh Truong has written in: “I have two ginger roots that are sprouting (see photo). I thought that it might be fun to try growing ginger given that the price per kg is $50! Seriously, why is ginger so expensive? Anyway, has anyone tried to grow ginger in Victoria before?

To which I replied: “Yes, lots of us grow ginger in Melbourne. Also turmeric and galangal. See www.localfoodconnect.org.au/community-gardening/growing-ginger-and-turmeric. The trick is to grow them in pots so that you can take them to a warmer place (e.g. a greenhouse) over Winter. When we harvest our ginger, we freeze most of it so it is available to us all year round.

Vasundhara’s recipe of the week – cranberries black bean ‘meatballs’


The meatballs:
1½ cups cooked black beans
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon tapioca starch
1½ teaspoons sage
1 teaspoon linseeds, grounded
½ teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

The sauce:
1¼ cups almond milk (300ml)
2 tablespoons veggie stock powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 pinch nutmeg
salt and pepper
fresh parsley to garnish


Soak the cranberries in the milk for 20-30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 200degC.

In a blender, combine the black beans, garlic, parsley, linseeds (previously grounded), nutmeg, salt and pepper. Blend to a paste (you might need to push down the mixture a few times to properly blend – do not add any liquid or they won’t come up together).

Add the tapioca starch and the soaked cranberries (do not discard the milk, you are going to use it soon for the sauce!) to the mixture and mix it with your hands until all the starch is absorbed.

Roll the ‘meatballs’ into the desired size, arrange on a baking tray and bake for 10-20 minutes (the bigger the balls, the more time in the oven).

Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a saucepan, combine the corn flour with the vegetable oil. Turn on the heat and gently stir into the almond milk. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring all the time. Add the veggie stock, the spices and adjust the saltiness. Cook for another 2-3 minutes on medium-low heat until the sauce starts to thicken.

Once the ‘meatballs’ are ready, add them into the pan, and coat them with the sauce.

Serve with some freshly ground pepper and parsley.

Read more of Vasundhara Kandpal’s plant-based recipes on our website.

A local guide on how to tackle our shared climate emergency

Dale Martin, ex-Moreland Councillor, has written in to say that he has recently published a Local Government Climate Emergency Toolkit, which is a guide for individuals and community groups to help tackle our shared climate emergency. One of its sections is on agriculture. Download the guide.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

The most popular link was Horticulture Innovation Australia’s report about how to control Queensland Fruit Fly.

Joke (or pun) of the week

What can a whole apple do that half an apple can’t do? It can look round.

Read more jokes.

Upcoming events – introduction

Fay Loveland has written in with more details about the free online introduction to seed saving event on Thursday, 11th February, 7-9pm. It will feature Kat Lavers and has been jointly organised by Local Food Connect, Nillumbik Council and Banyule Council. Read more and book your place.

Website calendars

By type of event: All once-off events, Cooking, Everything else, Free.

By Council area: Banyule, Boroondara, City of Yarra, Darebin, Manningham, Maroondah, Moreland, Nillumbik, Whitehorse, Whittlesea and Yarra Ranges.

When looking at a calendar, remember that you can:

  • Filter the list of events by suburb or suburbs using the green ‘location’ button top left.
  • Show all the event descriptions using the ‘expand all’ button top right.

Upcoming events – not cooking

Newly announced

Upcoming events – cooking

Newly announced
In Richmond

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